Universal Orlando has an incredible array of hotels on its vast property. From the relaxing and tropical Universal's Loews Sapphire Falls Resort to the modern and chic Universal's Aventura Hotel, there's a hotel to fit any frog's vibe. Eight different hotels call Universal Orlando home. They all range in price but Universal has broken them up into four different categories: the Value resorts ($), the Prime Value resorts ($$), the Preferred resort ($$$) and the Premier resorts ($$$$). In this blog, we're going to be focusing on the three Premier resorts. While you may be shelling out a little extra green for these hotels, Universal by and large makes it worth your while with all the frogtastic perks and benefits that come with staying there. Hop along with me as I introduce you to these three luxurious hotels and break down what makes them worth checking out.
Overview of Universal's Premier Hotels
I'm pretty sure when they say "La Dolce Vita," they're talking about this place. As soon as you drive onto this hotel's property and look across the lake, you'll see what I mean. Portofino Bay is inspired by the beauty of the picturesque seaside village of Portofino, Italy. Complete with cobblestone streets, towering Italian cypress trees, candy-colored houses and a waterfront filled with canoes, you'll find it hard to believe you didn't just get magically transported to the Italian Riviera. That's not even to mention the gorgeous live music and stellar cuisine you'll find here! Leap and I love staying at this hotel for its romantic charm, sensational dining options, three separate pools that offer varying levels of privacy and relaxation ... oh, and did I mention the only spa on Universal property?
Why should you only just party like a rockstar? How about dining, relaxing, shopping and sleeping like one? Inspired by the architecture of California missions and influenced by classic rock music, Hard Rock Hotel offers show-stopping service and an all-access pass to all of the excitement at Universal Orlando. Once you step into the lobby filled with plush couches and rock memorabilia, you'll be living like rock 'n' roll royalty. Indulge in culinary nirvana at the resort's ovation-worthy restaurants, relax at a palm-lined pool with underwater music, amp up your vacation with The Sound of Your Stay Program and rejuvenate your mind, body and soul with one-of-a-kind fitness amenities. You'll feel so pampered, there's no way you won't want to return for an encore.
Get swept away to Polynesian paradise when you book a stay at Universal's last (but certainly not least) Premier resort. Royal Pacific is filled with tropical wonders, exotic food and carefree fun and is without a doubt one of our favorite places to unwind on Universal property. With offerings, including a lagoon-style pool surrounded by white sand and palm trees, craft brews and specialty meals and a torch lighting ceremony, you'll experience the tranquility of the South Seas everywhere you turn. All our cares truly go away whenever we stay at this AAA 4-Diamond award-winning hotel. Get lost in the lush landscaping, sparkling waterfalls and exquisite wood carvings that surround this property. When you're here, you're on island time. Aloha!
Theme Park Benefits of Universal's Premier Hotels
There are many reasons to stay at a Universal Resort hotel, but the biggest perk for Premier hotel guests specifically is the free Universal Express Unlimited benefit. The value of this pass can't be overstated. It allows you to skip the regular lines at the most popular attractions in Universal Studios Florida and Universal's Islands of Adventure, including The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man, Despicable Me Minion Mayhem and The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, giving you potentially hours back in your day when you add all of the standby waits together. This also makes it so much easier to plan times to see shows and book dining reservations because you know you'll be on and off each attraction fairly quickly. Plus, you can keep riding your favorite attractions again and again while staying out of the Florida heat. Really a win-win-win-win-win! Many frogs ultimately make the decision to book a Premier resort based on this perk alone ... but that's not all these hotels have to offer. The other theme park benefit exclusive to the Premier resorts is priority seating at select restaurants throughout Universal Orlando — talk about VIP access!
Now, when you stay at any hotel on Universal property, you also get to take advantage of Early Park Admission. This perk allows frogs to access either Universal Studios or Islands of Adventure up to one hour prior to park opening or Universal's Volcano Bay thirty minutes prior to opening. Whether you want to run straight to the Wizarding World to conquer the spell-binding attractions or Waturi Beach to get a prime tanning spot, those extra minutes in the morning can be an invaluable addition to your day.
Lastly, Universal hotel guests have access to complimentary transportation to the theme parks and Universal CityWalk (Premier hotels offer water taxis, shuttle buses and walking paths), resort-wide charging privileges with your room key and complimentary delivery of merchandise purchased throughout the resort to your hotel. All of these benefits are offered to make your entire vacation less stressful and more relaxing. Who could say no to that?
Accommodations at Universal's Premier Hotels
If you're feeling extra fancy, Premier resort guests have the option to upgrade to their hotel's respective club level. Club-level guests can enjoy complimentary coffee, assorted teas and soft drinks throughout the day, continental breakfast, afternoon snacks, hot and cold hors d'oeuvres and complimentary beer and wine during Happy Hour and "Sweets Hour" each night. These free meals can end up saving you so much money in the long run so the club levels are absolutely something worth looking into.
Additionally, Premier hotel guests (and Sapphire Falls guests) have access to valet parking (fees apply) and can bring their pets on vacation with them! All four of these hotels, plus Universal's Aventura Hotel also have kids' suites available. All eight resorts on property have a large selection of standard rooms and suites to choose from — all of which include complimentary Wi-Fi access and are non-smoking. In your Premier room (as well as every other room on property), you'll find a flat-panel TV, a hairdryer, an in-room safe, a mini-refrigerator, an iron and an ironing board. Every room (but standard rooms at the Prime Value resorts) also includes a coffee maker and every guest at Premier and Preferred hotels can also purchase a microwave for $15 a day. Self-parking at Premier resorts is $28 plus tax per night, per vehicle for overnight guests and $45 plus tax per day, per vehicle for day guests.
Amenities and Dining at Universal's Premier Hotels
How can you say no to 24-hour room service? Premier resorts are the only hotels on property that offer a full menu of delicious food and drinks. (Preferred hotel, Sapphire Falls, has a limited room service menu available.) All four resorts, though, have a concierge desk and business center available to help with anything guests might need. While every hotel on property has a themed pool, only the Premier resorts, Sapphire Falls and Cabana Bay have cabanas available to rent, plus every resort (but Universal's Endless Summer Resort) has poolside movies to enjoy! You can also pool hop to all of the hotel pools (except for ones at the Endless Summer hotels). You'll also find full-service restaurants at every hotel on property except for the Prime Value resort options.
Certain amenities are standard across all eight resorts on property. These amenities include a game room, a complimentary fitness center, shopping, laundry services, access to Mandara Spa at Portofino Bay, a Universal Orlando Attraction Ticket Center, a rental car desk, a food court or grab-and-go option and a bar and lounge.
The big question: Are Premier resorts worth the extra green? We tend to think so — especially during busy seasons (i.e. spring break, summer and the holidays) when that Universal Express Unlimited pass can feel like a Golden Ticket! Plus, you get access to some pretty stellar amenities. (Also, while you don't need to stay at a hotel to dine at a certain restaurant, The Kitchen at Hard Rock Hotel and Islands Dining Room at Royal Pacific are some of our favorite places to have breakfast and Mama Della's Ristorante and Bice Ristorante at Portofino Bay are some of our favorite places to have dinner.)
Most importantly, whether your heart's set on the picturesque property of Portofino Bay, the laid-back, rockin' vibe of Hard Rock Hotel or the tropical paradise of Royal Pacific, you can score some hoppin' deals when you book through Undercover Tourist. You can even save up to 50 percent on a car rental when you bundle with any hotel and save $10 on each Universal Orlando ticket with a minimum two-night stay! How great is that?!? So ... I guess I'll see you by the pool! Ciao!
Have you stayed at a Universal Premier Hotel? Which one is your favorite? Let us know in the comments below!